A new technology being piloted in Saskatchewan aims to extract hydrogen from beneath the earth.
Alberta-based Proton Technologies has deployed its patented process to extract the element from existing hydrocarbon reservoirs to be the first commercial development of its kind.
“We are excited to move ahead with the first commercial deployment of this technology in the world here in Saskatchewan, and we have exciting plans to further advance and scale this technology in future stages,” Proton CEO Grant Strem said in a statement.
“Saskatchewan is a great place to invest and do business, especially in the energy industry.”
The technology also has the potential to repurpose orphaned oil wells, officials said.
For many abandoned or depleted hydrocarbon reservoirs, hygenic earth energy (HEE) becomes a “phoenix” solution, according to Proton’s website. The transition to HEE can be rapid since infrastructure is in place, and so many reservoirs are surveyed and accessible.
The hydrogen produced from HEE could be used for power generation, transportation fuel and feedstock in the chemicals industry which includes fertilizer production.
Every litre of hydrogen used for energy produces nine litres of pure water, according to Proton’s website.
Proton purchased the Superb air injection test facility near Kerrobert, Sask., and said it has been producing hydrogen since, but for demonstration purposes.
Eventually, Proton said it plans to build a 500 tonne per day hydrogen facility, with the anticipated cost of hydrogen gas (H2) at 10 cents a kilogram.
Proton said it’s aiming at selling H2 later this year.
Provincial government officials said on Wednesday the hydrogen market is expanding globally.
Additionally, this marks the first formally approved initiative under the government’s Saskatchewan Petroleum Innovation Incentive (SPII) program, which was created to support the commercialization of innovations in the oil and natural gas sectors.
SPII offers a 25 per cent transferrable royalty credit on projects.
“This project already employs 14 people in the Kerrobert area and has the potential to employ up to 30 people by the end of the year, and lead to further economic diversification and growth, despite these challenging times,” Kindersley MLA Ken Francis said in a press release.
“Our province looks forward to being the home of the world’s first zero-emission hydrogen oil reservoir extraction technology.”
Kerrobert is roughly 175 kilometres west of Saskatoon.